Ray Blanco

Increasingly, the great new medical technologies aren’t coming from the pharmaceutical behemoths, but from scrappy little biotech upstarts. In few instances is this truer than in the field of cancer immunotherapy.

Immunotherapy is defined as a “treatment designed to produce immunity to disease or enhance the resistance of the immune system to an active disease process, as cancer.” Simply put, cancer immunotherapy activates the body’s powerful and complex immune system so that it can do its job better.

Immune system-based therapies are becoming a proven route to improving cancer treatment. There are multiple immunotherapy innovators, several of which have performed well in our Technology Profits Confidential portfolio due to their deep and diverse developmental pipelines.

Some immune-based therapies work, for example, by training the immune system to identify and attack cancer cells. Functionally, therefore, they are vaccines.

Others use antibodies to achieve similar results. Antibodies are an important part of our natural biological defenses. They are used by the immune system to identify infectious microbes and mutant cancer cells. Once these foreign objects are flagged by antibodies, other immune system components, such as white blood cells, move in for the kill.

ADC (antibody-drug conjugation) technology, for example, works by combining an immune system component — antibodies — with a toxic payload.

ADC technology uses engineered antibodies to target molecular markers that are overexpressed on cancer cells, yet absent or uncommon on healthy ones. The attached toxin is then released to kill the cell.

Another kind of ADC technology doesn’t link antibodies directly to cancer cells, but instead, attach an antigen to an antibody that is targeted to attach to antigen-presenting cells (APCs) — specifically, dendritic cells. Once attached to a dendritic cell, it presents an antigen that’s frequently present in a wide variety of cancer types, including sarcoma, myeloma, melanoma and cancer of the bladder, breast, ovaries and lungs.

Many antibody-based cancer immunotherapy companies imitate this natural defense mechanism by creating custom antibodies to home in on molecular targets present on cancer cells. Once an immune system cell, such as a T-cell, comes into contact with an attached antibody, it attacks the tagged cancer cell.

Then there’s technology that uses compounds that aren’t antibodies, but protein that stimulates the immune system by proliferating and mobilizing bone marrow stem cells and immune cells.

When choosing different companies that specialize in this kind of technology, many factors come into play. But when picking companies undergoing trials, it’s better to go with fully human antibody therapeutics over “humanized” mouse (or any other animal) antibody.

When it’s fully human, it should be better tolerated by human patients. Humans can have an immune reaction to nonhuman antibodies, paradoxically producing their own antibodies to the therapeutic antibody. This causes the patient’s immune system to destroy the therapeutic antibodies.

This can reduce the effectiveness of an antibody therapy and require more frequent dosing. And because antibody drugs are large proteins that must be administered through injection, the frequency of dosing is important to patients.

Takeaway: keep these kinds of immunotherapy approaches in mind when looking for biotech companies with high growth potential.

Ad lucrum per scientia (toward wealth through science),

Ray Blanco

You May Also Like:

The Beatles of the Energy Revolution

Patrick Cox

"This is the end!" People love to make this statement about everything - from good music to energy production to the world as we know it. Lucky for us, these people are almost always wrong. Here are a few examples of why the future is actually brighter than most people think, and how you can make money because of it.

Ray Blanco

In 8th grade Ray Blanco was in his basement learning how to build what's called a "Wilson Cloud Chamber," a supercooled device for detecting particles of ionizing radiation. Now, he is an expert in advanced robotics, avionics, genomics, and biotechnology. Blanco was raised in Miami,FL, after his family fled Cuba in the 1960s. He is co-editor of Technology Profits Confidential and contributes to Breakthrough Technology Alert and Tomorrow in Review.

Recent Articles

Sage Advice for Bored Investors

Chris Mayer

It's amazing what some people will do out of sheer boredom. Investors, for example, will often throw money around, simply because they have nothing better to do - as if making MORE moves automatically translates to MORE money. Today, Chris Mayer explains why this emotion is so dangerous and how staving it off can save you a ton of money...

The One Word Every IPO Investor Needs to Know

Jonas Elmerraji

When a big company IPOs, investors can hardly contain their excitement. In a flash of exuberance, they throw money at a company they've already decided is worth something... even if the market hasn't made up its mind yet. Today, Jonas Elmerraji explains how one simple word can change the fate of every IPO investor. Read on...

How to Escape Obamacare in One Bold Move

Chris Campbell

Think it's impossible to escape the throes of Obamacare? Think again. Today, Chris Campbell relays the story of one man was able to get out from under the (un)Affordable Care Act, and how you can do it too. Don't see another doctor, take another pill, or shop around for better medical insurance until you read his story...

Let the Alibaba IPO Show You Where the Market’s Headed

Greg Guenthner

For the last few days, the market has been buzzing with excitement over the Alibaba IPO. Well, the day is finally here. And while some investors line up with their lotto tickets, ready to snatch it up no matter what the price, Greg Guenthner suggests a slightly more restrained approach. Read on...

NATO Meeting Gives You a Strong “Buy” Signal

Byron King

In early September, 2014 an important meeting was held at the posh Celtic Manor, in Newport, Wales. Heads of state were present. But it was the appearance of a Lockheed F-35B fighter jet that held the real story of what was going on... Today, Byron King pulls back the curtain on this meeting, and how you can use it to your advantage in the market. Read on...